Caution Using “Punishment” In Sport

Have you ever had to do burpees because you were late, or sprints because you lost? Does your box have a policy where the coaches give out some sort of “punishment” if you do, or don’t do something?

If you haven’t experienced what I’m talking about, you probably have at least heard of it. I’m not saying that it can’t be effective, but I’m not a huge fan of making people or athletes do an exercise as a penalty for a behavior that isn’t ideal. It may teach someone a lesson, but they may also resent you for a while after that. I can see exceptions for using this type of system, but there are definitely other, more helpful ways to instill rules.

First of all, if it’s always the same punishment, like burpees for example, don’t you see how it will be easy to resent that movement? I mean, they are challenging enough without the added negative-association. At the very least, vary it up!

Second, I like to consider exercise (even really shitty, hard bouts of exercise) more of a reward by teaching people that we GET to, CAN and are ABLE to take part in sport, or fitness because it’s good for us or we love it. That language is far more appealing and influential.


So, instead of making the athlete do extra physical work, here are a couple of other (or additional) ways to deal with the person who is breaking the rules, or messing up.

1. Have a private conversation with the person about the behavior or language that you dislike.

2. Educate the person about why certain standards are expected, and find out what you can do to help him or her improve.

3. If it’s a repeated offense that’s annoying or dangerous, come up with an agreement with that individual, track the offenses, and let him or her know that it won’t be tolerated at a certain point.


What do you think is the best way to deal with someone who is “breaking the rules?”

Does your coach use penalties like this?

Do you agree with having this type of rule?

Comment below with your thoughts.


I’m Dawn Fletcher, the owner of Driven Mind. I help driven-individuals perform better and achieve greatness in all that they do.

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